On Sunday, I returned from my most recent family history tour, some of you may have been following along over on The Armchair Genealogist Facebook page. I took my parents and along with my sister, we toured la belle province of Quebec. This is where predominantly all of my mother’s ancestry is situated. We toured the back roads linking the little villages along the way and followed the migration path of several of our ancestral surnames throughout the province.
I was the chief driver, navigator and tour guide and I have to be honest it was a little overwhelming at times. While I thought I was pretty well organized, there were many moments I needed a little extra help. As we toured the province, I linked the information from the documents in my research, and helped piece together the stories of our ancestors. I can honestly say admit with all I was trying to juggle, my mind sometimes would turn to mush. Particularly, as the day turned to dusk, I was not as sharp and as readily available with the answers as I was first thing in the morning. I had a lot of information readily available to me, and I had a binder of reference material sitting in the car, but the tool I found myself relying on repeatedly was..... my Ancestry.com app.
Hovering under umbrellas outside 300-year-old churches, I was able to look up information to put time and context to the place in which we were standing. The small villages came to life with the faces of my ancestors. We could imagine them in these places going about their everyday business. The Ancestry.com app allowed me the opportunity to pull up documents. For instance, standing in the church where my first ancestor married in Canada in 1676, I pulled up the marriage certificate of my eighth great grandfather. I was able to show my family the document that was signed in this very spot that we were standing. I could answer questions, like how many kids they had, when did they leave, and sometimes when census information allowed, where they lived and what they did for a living. On another occasion, we found ourselves at the church of our ancestral family, attached a small cemetery. I was quickly able to identify who may be in this small cemetery and whether it was worth our time to wander the rows of tombstones before moving on.
My family history was always at my fingertips. I didn’t have to carry my heavy binder; it often remained in the trunk of the car. I charged my phone at every opportunity so that we were never without this lifeline of information. If you don’t already own a car charger, I can’t stress this enough for those of you touring by car. The combination of using the Ancestry.com app, GPS and some picture taking quickly can be a drain on the battery of a smartphone.
I know many of you are very familiar with this app, like you, I’ve carried it around with me for years on my smartphone, but I can say with all honesty that I’ve ever used it as much as I did on this trip. It was my bible during my family history tour, and like no other device I packed, it served as the most valuable tool during this week long journey.
Before you head out on your next family history research trip, download and or update your family history on the Ancestry.com app and utilize this tool to help you enrich your traveling experience and carry your family history in the palm of your hand.